FOOD, NUTRITION 11th April 2016

Say NO to #MealPrep

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I realize the title of this post may seem counter intuitive for a health blogger, but it is for the exact reason of health I felt compelled to write about it. Meal prep is synonymous with healthy habits, losing weight and saving money. The manifesto is clear: prep your meals in advance so you don’t derail from your diet. And though it’s roots lie in the body building community where strict moderation over everything you eat is essential, these days it seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. At the time of writing (Saturday 10:40pm), 2.5 million uploads were found on the Gram using hashtag #mealprep. But at what point does the Law of Diminishing Returns set in? Is chicken and broccoli made on Sunday but eaten on Friday really healthy? Does it actually make sense to feed your body this way? Broccoli cannot contain the same level of vitamins A, C and K five days later, so why not just reach for the Oreos at this point. It’s bad enough that most produce in supermarkets is already weeks old by the time it gets to you (notorious for this practice is Trader Joe’s) therefore why add insult to injury?

Initially I too meal prepped, but gave it up in favor of cooking each morning for the day ahead. This has been my routine for the last two years and my home made lunch is something I look forward to at work. Enjoyment is key since most meal prepping is predicated on convenience and calories therefore ends up being a bland protein served with either broccoli, asparagus or spinach.  Having variety in your diet is really important, a topic I have touched on previously but cooking is not something everyone enjoys so its no wonder the winning combo seems to be chicken and broccoli. But who can honestly say they look forward to this when their co-worker is chowing down cuban food from the new spot down the block?!

Even if you don’t mind eating stale food spare a thought for your digestive system. Your body isn’t designed to eat food that is cooked more than three hours in advance. Storing food in the refrigerator for hours, days or weeks causes it to lose its energy, vitality and intelligence, and it becomes difficult to digest.  This explains why so many illnesses are born out of poor gut flora. You become what you eat.

To me, waking up at 6am to make breakfast and lunch seems to work. It means I don’t sacrifice an entire Sunday and can use that time binge watching Sons of Anarchy (late in the game on this show, but beyond obsessed with it!). So without further ado, I share with you my top three breakfast and lunch ideas….Dinner is less of a concern for me personally, however feel free to use these recipes for any time of the day. After all, who says you can’t have oats for dinner?!!? All recipes take less than 15 minutes to make and therefore work perfectly for cooking and consuming on the same day!  Note, this is my top 3 favorites, not a definitive guide on all things quick and tasty. Maybe one day I’ll write a cook book for that …….

  1. Scrambled egg with sautéed vegetables


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Ingredients:

  • Coconut or Olive oil
  • Three leaves of Swiss Chard
  • Four to five grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 of a red bell pepper
  • Three Mushrooms (any variety you like)
  • Two eggs, one egg white
  • One or two slices of toast (I buy fresh bread at the bakery…. avoid pre-packaged bread if you can)
  • Himalayan salt, black pepper, cumin powder
  • 2% milk (optional)

Time to prep: 5 minutes

Time to Cook: 10 minutes 

Make it:

  • Using a frying pan or skillet on medium heat, add 1/2 tbsp coconut or olive oil. Once melted,  spread all over using a spatula
  • Sprinkle cumin powder, salt & pepper into the pan and turn to a low heat
  • Chop mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers and add to the pan, up to a medium heat and allow to cook for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice
  • Meanwhile, chop the swiss chard, taking care to slice out the stem if you prefer not to eat it, but I do recommend it for a nice crunch
  • Add swiss chard to the pan and stir in with the ingredients for a minute
  • Poor sautéed vegetables onto a plate
  • Crack eggs into a bowl, mix using fork or a whisk and pour in 1/4 cup of milk to thin it out for a fluffier texture. Don’t add milk if you prefer the eggs dense
  • Add 1/4 tbsp of oil to the pan (which should still be hot) and spread evenly using spatula
  • Pour in eggs, and scramble to your hearts desire until cooked
  • Make your toast
  • Serve eggs over the toast alongside vegetables and enjoy!

This will fit in a plastic container, maybe not a pretty formation, but pretty doesn’t necessarily taste good!

And if you don’t have Swiss Chard, substitute with Spinach Leaves as I sometimes do, which (as a bonus) you don’t need to cook as they will turn into nothing if you do.  Throw in avocado for extra calories (good one’s of course) and this comes in handy if you are going Low Carb and avoiding the toast!

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      2. OatSoVersatile:

Ingredients (Recipe 1):

  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp honey or syrup
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • Cinnamon
  • Handful of raisins
  • Cacao nibs (optional but pack an antioxidant punch)
  • Berries of choice
  • 1/2 Banana

Time to prep: 2 minutes

Time to Cook: 10 minutes 

Make it:

  • Place pot on a medium heat on the stove
  • Add oats and stir until light brown
  • Pour in 1 cup of water and turn heat down, leave to simmer
  • Chop berries and banana
  • At the 5 minute mark stir in flax seed, raisins, honey, cacao nibs and a dash of cinnamon
  • At the 10 minute mark the water should have fully absorbed, maybe sooner.. keep an eye on it
  • Pour into bowl (or container if saving for later) and top with the berries and banana, sprinkle more cinnamon if you wish

 

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Ingredients (Recipe 2):

  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp peanut or almond butter
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • Handful of walnuts
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen berries

Time to prep: 2 minutes

Time to Cook: 10 minutes 

Make it:

  • Place pot on a medium heat on the stove
  • Add oats and stir till light brown
  • Pour in 1 cup of water and turn heat down, leave to simmer
  • At the 5 minute mark stir in flax seed, cinnamon and frozen berries
  • At the 8 to 10 minute mark the water should have fully absorbed and berries softened
  • Pour oats into bowl or container
  • Top with a tbsp of nut butter and walnuts

 

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    3. The trifecta of Protein, Fat and Carbs 

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • Rainbow Chard or Spinach
  • 2 free range eggs (hard boiled)
  • Tomato
  • Half an avocado (or quarter works too)
  • Black pepper for seasoning eggs and salad

Time to prep: 2 minutes

Time to Cook: 1 hour 

Make it: There really is no ‘cooking’ here. Bake the sweet potato for an hour (put in the oven as soon as you wake up so it’s ready by time you leave) and serve with two hard boiled eggs plus salad of leaves and tomatoes…. Delicious for a lunch idea (pic taken at my office)!

 

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There’s a lot more I could say on meal prep, nutrition and organization but for now let’s keep to these simple rules:

1) Wake up an hour earlier

2) Cook and eat that food on the same day. If that’s not always possible aim to eat it the next day, latest

3) Don’t be afraid to eat breakfast for lunch or dinner! Food is Food whatever time of day you eat it 🙂

 

As always, pushing for health!!